Check
out your February edition of The Eddy Line and you’ll see a Saint
Valentine’s Day Chestatee trip coordinated by Cathee Gallant. But
Cathee messed up her shoulder the Sunday before while showing off on
the Upper Hooch, so I got stuck coordinating. Not too bad a deal,
though, because Cathee handled all the paperwork and served as
shuttle bunny, so all I had to do was paddle. When we got home, she
said, “You have to write an article for The Eddy Line.”


“No
way.”
“Yes, way.”

This
went on for about a week until I just couldn’t take it any more. So,
here goes….

There
were 9 of us paddling kayaks were Mike Winchester, Kathy King and
Chris Brown; Open solo canoes were Dave Warner, Fred Henneike, Kay
Hess, Andy & Julie Dingus and me. No real novices in the bunch as
you might expect on this class I almost a II trip. Chris indicated he
had only been paddling a short time, but he handled his boat quite
well. The river was at a comfortable level. The gauge at the take-out
was only 1.8.

The
usual put-in for the middle Chestatee used to be just below Copper
Mine Rapid, a solid class III. But, the owners of the property closed
auto access to this area. If you’ve ever been there, you will
understand why. The area is (or was) frequented by local folks who
liked to camp and drink beer. Camping and drinking beer are OK, but
these folks weren’t too keen on cleaning up after themselves.

Anyway,
we put in at the bridge above Copper Mine Rapid.

Being
a good trip coordinator, I informed everyone of the up coming rapid
before we put on the river. I recommended a portage since it was
about 45 degrees and a swim at the beginning of the trip didn’t sound
like fun to me. My idea of what was fun changed, however, when we
reach Copper Mine and I got a look at it.

I
had never run this rapid. Cathee and I had attempted it in our tandem
when we first started paddling and didn’t know any better. But on
that day, the temperature was about 90 degrees, so our swim was quite
refreshing. Now it was February and the more I looked at Copper Mine,
the more excited I got.

“This is stupid,” I
thought. “Why should I carry my boat around this thing when I
can run it?” Andy and Dave decided to join me.

Andy
went first and eddied out just after the first drop — a fine move.
I followed, blew past the eddy and continued on over two more drops
to the pool below. Not very elegant, but hey! I was right side up.
That’s cool. Dave, our newest paddler, made a gallant effort. When it
was over, he said he wasn’t even cold.

The
rest of the trip was relatively uneventful. We played in every little
riffle we could find and I treated the group to a good laugh when I
flipped on a little class I for no apparent reason. I was getting hot
in my dry suit anyway.

We
all ran Blasted Rock, the only significant rapid on this section of
the river after Copper Mine, successfully.

Shortly
before the take-out, we heard a car horn and looked up to see Cathee
four wheelin’ next to the river. What a woman!

by
Bart Keith, photos by Cathee Gallant (see The Eddy Line Archives for
the photos)
From The Eddy Line, April 1998
February 14, 1998